North Korea show used Mickey without Disney approval

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 11 2012 03:27 AM | Updated as of Jul 11 2012 11:27 AM

LOS ANGELES, USA - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's nuclear program already has the world's attention but the young dictator has now defied the owner of one of America's most famous exports -- Mickey Mouse.

Disney said Tuesday that a colorful performance for Kim and the communist state's most powerful generals, which used several trademarked characters from the California-based studio's stable, had not received any approval.

"The Walt Disney company did not license or authorize the use of its characters," a spokeswoman said, after versions of Mickey, Minnie, Winnie the Pooh and other well-known faces graced a North Korean stage.

The show was unusual in its prominent use of cartoon characters from the United States, the authoritarian hermit nation's foe, and it also featured a host of young female musicians in short black dresses.

On Monday, reports showed a smiling and applauding Kim lapping up the show alongside a mystery woman, whose recent appearance at public events has sparked speculation over whether she is the leader's sister or lover.

The stage show was also backed up by scenes from the Disney movies Dumbo and Snow White on large television screens, the reports said, citing state media.

Kim took power after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il last December but the outside world does not even know his exact age.

Some analysts believe the young dictator could take his country in a new direction but others point to his failed rocket launch in April as evidence that he is likely to continue the country's international isolation.

The North has been developing nuclear weapons for decades.

Pyongyang's official position has been that it needs atomic weapons for self-defense against a US nuclear threat, but it is willing in principle to scrap its arsenal under a negotiated international deal.